By BOB GRITZINGER, Contributor | @bobgritzinger For the 2013 model…
Rolls-Royce is a brand that conjures a specific image: a vision of luxury and elegance and, of course, wealth. Owners are a discerning lot, and I had the chance to live their life for a day while driving the Rolls-Royce Dawn from Boston into the scenic New England countryside. It was a singular experience that proved why Rolls-Royce is such a highly regarded and coveted brand.
Elevated by association
Owning a Rolls-Royce isn’t so much about obtaining a car as it is about buying an experience. Get behind the wheel of any Roller, and you’re certain to attract the attention of many a covetous eye cast in your direction. Somehow, this prestigious Dawn — an eye-popping, drop-top Rolls — instantly transforms ordinary you into something much more impressive. (You don’t even have to change your clothes.)
The Rolls-Royce Dawn comes with the same twin-turbo V12 engine as the Wraith coupe we drove earlier this year. This hefty 6.6-Liter ever-so-elegantly produces 563 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque. Achieving 0-60 mph in just 4.8 seconds is quite the feat for this 17-foot-long, 6-foot-wide, 5,644 pound beauty of a beast.
That powerful engine does not make the Dawn a rough and tumble sports coupe. Once it realizes you want it to let loose with its impressive power, the Rolls responds in kind, but it never loses its poise.
To drive or be driven? That is the question.
The Dawn provides an effortless experience in luxury. Piloting the Rolls-Royce Dawn is the quintessential convertible experience — the wind blowing through your hair, the sun warming your face. It coasts down the road with an impeccably smooth ride (no small thanks to its BMW underpinnings).
The Dawn is not, however, a driver’s car in the traditional sense. And it’s not likely alone in the stable. If you’re seeking the thrills of raw performance, torque that squashes your spine through the seat, and an engine note that rattles the windows, then you’re looking at the wrong car. As with most Rollers, the Dawn is elegance defined. It urges you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride even if you have no idea where that ride is going to take you. (Who cares about the destination when you’re riding in a car like the Dawn?)
Sit in the passenger seat or either of the rear seats and experience the Dawn completely in its element. The most beautiful, rich leather embraces you, hugging you like your favorite chair. The lambs wool floor mats are so soft, begging you to kick off your shoes and dig in your toes. The open-pore wood and chrome accents applied throughout have been done so in a reserved manner, making the perfect statement on luxury.
Ride in the Rolls-Royce Dawn and, suddenly, the idea of hiring a driver makes a lot of sense.
Special touches elevate an already exquisite experience
Like most Rollers, the Dawn features suicide doors (Rolls-Royce refers to them as carriage doors). A 17-foot vehicle is bound to require big and heavy doors, so the carmaker thoughtfully included buttons that electronically open and close them for you. Even if you’re physically able to reach the handles, closing the carriage doors via the press of a button feels downright decadent.
Rolls-Royce has also provided custom branded umbrellas built into the door jambs. Depress a button and they pop out to be within arm’s reach. The driver can also open and close the roof at speeds up to 32 mph so the threat of rain won’t slow you down. Once the roof is closed, the Dawn provides a cocoon-like interior space that still has enough rear headroom to feel like a coupe, not a traditional ragtop.
In-car tech gadgets are not its forte
Those who are true technophiles might be a bit disappointed by the somewhat minimalist approach to technology in the Dawn. Its clunky system is neither compatible with Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto, and you’ll find only one USB port. The 10.25-inch high-definition screen is not a touchscreen but is instead controlled by a dial on the center console (again, BMW bits). To be fair, the dial is beautifully adorned with a silver inlay of the Rolls-Royce hood ornament, the “Spirit of Ecstasy”.
If you have to ask, you can’t afford it
The old adage certainly rings true with any member of the Rolls-Royce family, and the Dawn is no exception with a starting price of $335,000. As mentioned before, the Dawn isn’t a car that people save for, it’s something curated for a wealthy individual’s collection. According to Rolls-Royce, that collection averages about seven cars, making the six-month wait to get your custom-built Dawn a little more bearable.
Rolls-Royce is a brand steeped in luxury. The Dawn upholds that image with a supremely plush and comfortable convertible that invites you escape the real world and simply enjoy the ride.